LAKE GENEVA — This weekend's winter warmup isn't ideal for some. Lake Geneva is hosting its 25th annual Winterfest which includes a snow sculpting competition.
"It's a little warm for us right now," Drake Perez, snow sculptor from Rockford, Ill. said. "Optimal temperature would be about 12 degrees. It's a little wet, little mush. We have to be careful."
The giant snow art towers over the patrons walking by them. Many are grinning ear to ear as they embrace how nice it is to be outside in late January. Visit Lake Geneva expects 60,000 to 65,000 people this weekend.
"It's perfect," Marcus Slavinskas of South Bend, Ind. said. "Absolutely perfect for this."
Snow sculptors' idea of perfection is a much chillier day but they're making due. A light snowfall started Friday afternoon which was perfect for them. They don't care either way about the actual snow, but it means there is a blanket of clouds above them, protecting their works of art from the harmful rays of the sun.
"The sun will beat down on one side," Gina Diliberti, a snow sculptor from Milwaukee said. "Even if it's 20 degrees out, you can lose two inches of any detail you have."
Diliberti's tools are shaving away big sections of her snow sculpture. She says her team will have to wait until later tonight to start doing fine details.
"We might not get as much sleep," Diliberti said. "We'll wait for freezing temperatures to get all the details in there. If you're carving wood, it'll hold that edge. If you think of carving mashed potatoes, it's a little more mashed potato."
The good news for the sculptors is their art will be judged at 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning. By Sunday, with temperatures expected at or above 50 degrees, they'll be reduced to just mere snow piles. So they won't care as much about what happens after their hard work is judged.
"It's 100 percent recyclable!" Diliberti said of the material she makes her art out of.
However, just up the road, the Geneva National Resort is hosting the Ice Castles for the second straight year. They've spent months erecting 10 to 15-foot high ice towers for people to come and enjoy. But even their best bastion will be tested with soaring temperatures.
"It might get a little slush in there with mid-40s and things like that," Joe Weiler, a build manager with the Ice Castles said. "But we should have a good opening weekend. We have a good solid base in there."
Weiler says the worst part of the castle was December. It was entirely way too warm for them to make significant progress on their project.
"This is our fifth or sixth rebuild with Mother Nature battling us down," Weiler said. "But we're back and as big as we've ever been."
The walls have been fortified for weeks with water spouts freezing over and over again. So while there may be some melting, it won't have too big of an impact.
"We're still building," Weiler said. "Throughout the season, we're adding new features. Once we get temperatures, we'll be growing and stuff like that. If you come the first day, you'll have a totally different experience on the last day."
For more information on attending the ice sculptures, click here.